Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pacman Goes to Congress

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

On his first day in Congress, Representative Dr. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao showed up dressed in his best — double breasted striped royal blue zoot suit. He was given VIP treatment in the Speaker’s office. Pacman was surprised when he saw Gloria there.

The three-way conversation goes:

Speaker: Welcome to the House of Representatives, Representative Pacquiao.

Gloria: I am very glad that we can work together again just like before, Representative Pacquiao.

Pacman: House of Representative? Representative Pacquiao? Correction! I’m not a representative of Dr. Pacquiao. I am Dr. Manny Pacquiao! And I have been reelected as Congressman.

Speaker: Reelected? I though this was the first time you were elected as Congressman?

Pacman: This was my second reelection to Congress. The first time was in 2007.

Gloria: But you lost the first time, Dr. Pacquiao.

Pacman: It doesn’t matter if I won or lost the first time. But this is the second time I ran; therefore, I’ve been reelected, okay?

Speaker (whispering to Gloria): Masama na ito. Pilosopo pa pala ito.

Gloria: Okay, Manny, reelection it is then. Since this is your first stint in the House of Representatives…

Pacman: Hold it, my belabed ex-madam president! Unlike you, I was not elected to the House of Representa-thieves! I was elected to Congress or as some people call it, Tongress. He he he… I demand that I get the biggest barrel of beef because I’m the people’s champ!

Speaker: You mean to say, “pork barrel,” Dr. Pacquiao, right?

Pacman: No! No! No! In my district in Sarangani, most of my constitution are Muslims. They don’t eat pork!

Gloria: Constitution? Oh, you mean, “constituents”?

Pacman: Same thing, same thing. Now you understand why I want barrel of beef instead of pork, huh?

Speaker: Dr. Pacquiao, it’s “pork barrel.” However, it doesn’t contain pork. It contains moolah.

Pacman: Mullah!!! How dare you insult the mullah of my constitution! A mullah is a religious leader in Islam, and you want to put him in a barrel?

Gloria: The Speaker didn’t say, “mullah.” He said, “moolah,” which means money.

Pacman: Huh? Money? Like what you’re hiding in the Cayman Islands, Ate Glo?

Gloria: Umm… Yes, Manny. But nobody knows that. That’s our secret, okay?

Pacman: He he he… You’re smart, Ate Glo. That’s what I have in mind too. I’ll hide my pork barrel in the Cayman Islands.

Speaker: Didn’t you know that “Cayman” is a dangerous variety of alligator? That’s why they’re called Cayman Islands, there’s a lot of alligators out there. And they eat their victims alive. He he he…

Pacman: Kidding no. In that case, I’m not going to hide my pork barrel in the Cayman Islands. I’ll call Imelda and see where she’s hiding her mullah.

Speaker: Not mullah. It’s moolah.

Pacman: Same thing, same thing. I love them both… especially moolah. He he he…

Gloria: Please tell me when you found out where Imelda has been hiding her moolah. Okay, my friend?

Speaker: Ay naku, naloko na!

Yup, with Gloria, Imelda, and Pacman in the House of Representa-thieves, it’s going to be a circus out there.Wah wah we! Kawawa naman ang Pinas!


It seems that Comelec chairman Jose Melo couldn’t get his “signals” right. First he proclaimed the Ang Galing Pinoy party-list as one of 28 party-list winners in the elections. Then he withdrew the proclamation of Ang Galing Pinoy. But within minutes he withdrew the withdrawal of the proclamation but would not allow Mikey Arroyo to take the congressional seat yet until his disqualification case is resolved by the Comelec. However, if Mikey was not allowed to take the seat, then the seat would be given to Ang Galing Pinoy’s second nominee, Dennis Pineda, the anak ng Jueteng Lord (son of the Jueteng Lord). Jesusmariahosep! Ang galing talaga ang mga Pinoy! Naloko na ang bayan!

But Mikey found an ally in Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, who “urged the public not to quickly judge President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s eldest son.” Archbishop Aniceto said, “We leave that up to the Lord. There are many things that we don’t know about him (Mikey) and his background…” I’m not sure about the Lord, but for sure the Jueteng Lord knows a lot about the “Lion King” of Jueteng.

The Ang Galing Pinoy party-list represents the “marginalized” group of tricycle drivers and security guards. I guess Mikey considers himself a “marginalized” tricycle driver because he’s been driving a tricycle since he was three years old when his mom gave him a tricycle for his birthday present. Well, some kids just wouldn’t grow up. Meanwhile, he’s in the US “taking a rest.” Indeed, driving a tricycle could really be tiring… especially the ones for kiddies.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Kamaganak Inc. vs Hyatt 10?

As I See It
by Neal Cruz
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

The infighting has begun among the supporters of Noynoy Aquino even before the presumptive president-elect can assume office. It always happens, the fight over the spoils. It is like pirates fighting over looted treasure they buried, or Mafia gangsters fighting over territory for their vice dens. Alas, Noynoy’s forces are no exception, and if the future president does not put his foot down now and enforce discipline among his followers, his administration could be destroyed by his own men sniping at one another.

Principally, the sniping is believed to be between members of the Hyatt 10 (the 10 Cabinet members who resigned from the Arroyo administration and later threw their support behind Noynoy) and members of Kamaganak Inc., the same relatives that acted like termites in the administration of Noynoy’s mother Cory. Members of the Liberal Party, Noynoy’s party (and that of Mar Roxas and his father and grandfather) make up another group. And there may be other groups who think Noynoy owes his victory to them and therefore are entitled to part of the spoils.

Maybe Noynoy is taking refuge in Hacienda Luisita to escape from all of the “friends” whispering in his ears like mosquitoes to appoint so-and-so to this and that position. I understand the situation that he is in now. To save himself future problems, he should swat the pesky mosquitoes now by telling them in no uncertain terms not to torture his ears.

President Joseph Estrada tried it during his inaugural address with these words: “Walang kama-kamaganak, walang kumpa-kumpare (No relatives, no godfathers).” Nonoy should try, this early, something similar.

He has had problems with his youngest sister, the terribly conceited and talkative Kris, but she is harmless compared to the other Kamaganaks lurking in the wings: the Cojuangcos, the Aquinos, the Lopas, the Oretas, the Sumulongs, the Tanjuatcos, etc.

I think Noynoy should have a heart-to-heart talk with his relatives and tell them to leave him alone and stay away from Malacañang and his government. Even if they mean well, the public will look with suspicion on any meddling of his relatives in government. The meddling (and influence-peddling?) of relatives in Cory Aquino’s administration is still fresh in the minds of the people.

The people voted for Noynoy because he promised change and an end to corruption. His relatives should not make him fail by meddling.

* * *

The first victim of this infighting among Noynoy’s supporters is The Firm, the law office that helped the administrations of President Fidel V. Ramos and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but resigned from the latter over policy differences. Kamaganak Inc., and Kaklase Inc., and Hyatt 10, all positioning themselves for juicy posts in the second Aquino administration, see members of The Firm as a stumbling block. The most prominent of these attacks against The Firm was the media blitz of former Solicitor General Frank Chavez accusing the law firm of positioning itself in the Aquino administration, in particular, former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz and former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.

Both have denied any interest in returning to government, which is too bad because the two were admired during their stint in public service, enjoying high trust ratings despite serving in a hugely unpopular Arroyo administration. Marcelo won major cases in the fight against corruption. Cruz (no relation) is widely credited for instituting major reforms toward a more professional military. Cruz and Marcelo had the decency to quit their posts when their differences with Arroyo became irreconcilable.

While handling the defense portfolio, Cruz plugged corruption in the military and launched a reform program that until now serves as a roadmap for the transformation of the military. Marcelo, working with the late Haydee Yorac, recovered P61 billion in ill-gotten wealth during his brief, 20-month stint as solicitor general. At that time, this was more than double what had been recovered in all of the 16 years of existence of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

Currently president of the Philippine Bar Association, Marcelo remained non-partisan throughout the elections. He filed suits to question the midnight appointments of Chief Justice Renato Corona and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit. These suits, filed in defense of the rule of law, were meant to give the next president an opportunity to counteract the stumbling blocks left in its wake by the exiting Arroyo administration.

Their actions thrust these prominent lawyers back into the spotlight they shunned when they retreated to the quiet comfort of their private practice in The Firm.

* * *

Pampanga is claiming the first freedom martyr in Tarik Soliman (who died in the Battle of Bangkusay in Tondo on June 3, 1571) eclipsing Lapulapu who killed Ferdinand Magellan in the Battle of Mactan on April 27, 1521 and survived the battle.

But it was another Kapampangan, Capt. Lazaro Makapagal (a relative of GMA?), who led the Katipuneros who executed Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio on Mt. Buntis in Cavite. It was also cabalens from Macabebe who helped American General Funston capture President Emilio Aguinaldo in Isabela. President Diosdado Macapagal was the father of Philippine land reform, but his daughter, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the most hated Philippine president ever.

Corruption, Poverty, and our Honor

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

It is good to be away from the political atmosphere of the Philippines. It has been ten long months since STAR’s Billy Esposo and Inquirer’s Conrad de Quiros first wrote that Noynoy ought to run for president, and as long a period when friends and I actually began to push, then campaign, for a Noynoy presidency. Now, I am back in the US to return to push for causes closest to my heart which go beyond elections and, hopefully, will find priority in a new government.

As Noynoy prepares for his presidency, he will be confronted with the two most evil cancers in Philippine society – corruption and poverty. There had been determined efforts by some quarters to distract Noynoy’s campaign away from its central focus against corruption, mainly because the issue was deadly against those who were viewed as corrupt or tolerant of corruption. Others simply were too quick to jump to more advanced stages of development and growth which are possible only beyond a corrupt governance and the re-emergence of meritocracy in public service.

Filipinos are not short of talent, only short of opportunity and the discipline to apply their talents in a consistent pattern. The sterling performance of Filipinos who work outside the Philippines merely indicate their wealth of talent and ingenuity provided these are motivated by an environment of opportunity and order. The same is true even in the Philippines where work or career environments are grounded on opportunity and meritocracy It is just not true of government service where the many who want to be honest are overpowered by leadership which does not allow it to be so.

Just as vital to a country which wants to be a nation is the kind of poverty that afflicts Philippine society. Like corruption, poverty is not addressed as a central issue. I think that there have not been focused and sustained efforts against corruption and poverty for the simple reason that these were never priority concerns of leadership. How can issues which are central to one’s value system be regarded as less than most important, as less than most pressing? Only when they are really not priority.

How simple-minded, too, are those who wish to distract a new Aquino presidency from its promise of addressing corruption as its primary objective as though the rest of governance cannot be attended to. Even patients who are afflicted with diseases that can be life-threatening continue to live out the rest of their lives beyond activities related to curing their diseases. Perhaps, those who wish to draw away focus from corruption do not have either the capacity to understand how corruption in the Philippines is like a dark and foul blanket not only over governance but society as well; or, they wish to make sure that enough of corruption remains so they do not have to re-adjust their lives dramatically.

Governance, too, will have to give poverty the kind of priority that it seeks to devote to corruption. Poverty is the consequence of sustained corruption, of warped leadership values which do not respect and appreciate the life and rights of a poor Filipino vis a vis a rich one. The poor in our country are not a small percentage that then may merit its equivalent attention; our poor represent the Philippines in majority numbers and its spectrum is so wide that it has to be defined by varying degrees.

We have poverty which is absolute. This is the poverty which carries with it as its main weapon the threat of hunger for every meal. I wonder how many of us can understand hunger, the fear of it, and worse, the experience of it. I wonder how many of us understand hunger when it grips our children or our elderly. Well, many of us do not, and most of those who are in leadership do not either. How else can hunger incidence be at its highest in the last ten years if our leaders cared? If we were at the helm of governance, locally and nationally, the equivalent of being parents to sections of society, could we have tolerated hunger or its daily threat if we cared for our people?

Government officials and economists have written paper after paper, their various views on how to evolve and sustain economic development. Most of these papers have been filed away, in cabinets to be fodder for cockroaches, or in hard drives which will hardly ever be opened again. The volume of economic study, proposals and programs are so voluminous, yet inconsequential, that no ordinary Filipino, from the less poor to the very poor, can recall any of them. That is how disconnected these papers, proposals and programs are to lives of people that no one knows of them. This is indicative of how inconsequential the concern of governance is for poverty that the poor do not know there is a paper, proposal or program to address their plight.

If I poured ten months of my life to help Noynoy Aquino become president, personal relationships were not enough reason for me to do so. But almost ten years of Gawad Kalinga and more than twenty-five years of community development work certainly were powerful motivations for me to do so. Noynoy promised from the very beginning that Gawad Kalinga would be part of his platform of governance, continuing a relationship which Gawad Kalinga had with Corazon C. Aquino who called Gawad Kalinga “people power over poverty” and lent it her influence.

Here in the US, more and more Filipinos look with optimism to the Noynoy Aquino presidency because most of them believed he would be an honest president who will try his level best to address corruption in government. I also know from our work of promoting Gawad Kalinga here that Filipinos in America are also very hopeful that Noynoy Aquino will hold the poor close to his heart. But, perhaps, and most of all, Filipinos everywhere must be hoping that Noynoy Aquino, by example, can bring back honor to our race.

“There is always a philosophy for lack of courage.” Albert Camus

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Yes, he might

Theres The Rub
by Conrado de Quiros
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

Several people have asked me in recent weeks: “Do you think Noynoy Aquino can really stop corruption?”

That question has for its context the performance of Noynoy’s own mother, Cory, in that respect. Cory came in under far more euphoric, far more heroic, far more revolutionary conditions, conditions that promised to turn things around in thoroughgoing, if not radical, ways. Instead corruption flourished under her rule, the expropriated government corporations in particular being appropriated faster than you could say GOCC by friends and relatives. Can Noynoy do better?

My answer is: “I am hopeful he can.”

There are a number of things to bolster that hope, though in a qualified way. One, as I kept saying during the campaign, he is not beholden to the usual suspects who invest in elections and demand payback afterward. His campaign was a real people’s campaign for the most part, soaring on the wings of volunteer work, or worked off the backs of people who did what they did simply because they believed in it. But who have gone on not just without pay but without recognition, the credit for their work being stolen by those who got paid handsomely, who bungled the campaign (they dropped Edsa as the campaign theme, sending Noynoy into a tailspin; the volunteers kept faith with it), and who believe now they deserve to be punished by being given the choicest positions in government.

But to appreciate the value of Noynoy’s “people’s campaign,” can you imagine if Manny Villar were elected president? At the very least, there’s the question of how he would recoup the fortune he spent for it. At the very most, there’s the question of how much a presidential candidate would have to spend in 2016 to top it.

Two, on several occasions Noynoy has expressed his resolve to prosecute those who stole, and stole not just money. He has objected to the clearing of the First Couple in the NBN scandal and has told the European Union he means to bring the killers of hundreds of political activists to justice. As early signals go, these aren’t bad.

His campaign slogan was, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” That cannot simply mean replacing the corrupt with the honest and forgetting about the corrupt. That can only mean replacing the corrupt with the honest and jailing the corrupt. If only to give added incentive to the honest not to become corrupt themselves. People do tend to become the ogre they slay. Enough of that “Let’s be positive” nonsense if all that means is that we should let the thieves and murderers get away to enjoy the fruits of their crimes. The only way you can stop corruption is to punish corruption, and that means not just future thieves but past ones. You do not punish past thieves, you will always have future ones.

That is, of course, easier said than done, and Noynoy will need all the support he can gather, apart from all the fortitude he can muster, to accomplish it. Indeed, his real test of character will not be hounding Arroyo and company to the ends of the earth like the Furies for blood debts among other debts, it will be hounding some of the people who were part of his campaign for a flood of debts among other debts. The Peace Bonds, for one, remain an open wound, a sovereign debt we will be paying, with all the interests that have accrued to them (P35 billion next year). That is not to speak of the people in that campaign who have been stealing credit for the work of others, which is a worse sort of theft. You steal credit today, you’ll steal cash tomorrow. If indeed you haven’t done so already.

Keep your enemies far and your friends even farther. That is the advice I gave prospective journalists in the form of the UP MassCom graduates a couple of months ago. Same advice I’d give a prospective president.

And three, Noynoy, like his mother, has the power to tap into People Power. That is the one huge ally he would need to fight corruption. That is the one huge ally that will be there to fight corruption.

Cory formally institutionalized People Power—it’s a provision in the Constitution—but never really used it in the course of her term. The provision was left for the politicians to pervert, not least Arroyo who used it to oust Grace Padaca and Ed Panlilio and to try to change the Constitution. Noynoy holds the key to it. If he discovers it, he will raise, like Aragorn who conscripted the dead kings and their legions in “Lord of the Rings,” an army mightier than any of his enemies can muster.

I’ve never really bought that stupid idea that Noynoy should compromise with the deadbeats in the Senate and House so that he can get the numbers to push reform. The last thing you’ll get when you ally with the people who are opposed to reform is reform. The only thing he needs to do is ally with the people, or get them behind his back. The only thing he needs to do is unlock the magic that is to be found in the constitutional provision about the people and their power.

People Power though is a tricky thing. It is not like the power Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Santiago tapped into when they goaded the crowd at the Edsa Shrine to “Sugod! Sugod!” and wreaked that mayhem in Mendiola. People Power is far more discriminating, it is far more purposeful. It doesn’t follow blindly. Cory herself was unable to raise it when she called for the retention of the US bases, and Jaime Cardinal Sin himself was unable to raise it as well when he called for a siege on Castle Condom, or the reproductive health program of Juan Flavier. But Noynoy summons it to fight corruption, and the summons will reach the farthest reaches of the forests to draw out an army, one ready for a long and arduous campaign.

Can Noynoy do it? Can he stop corruption as he promised to do?

Paraphrasing Barack Obama, yes, he might.

The men and women behind Noynoy

by Aurea Calica
from The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Now that the campaign is over and Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party (LP) is poised to become the country’s next president, let us take a look at the men and women around the president-apparent who helped propel a most unlikely candidate – who joined the presidential race barely eight months ago – to the presidency, those who give him counsel and support.

Aquino has kept a close circle of friends for many, many years, and most of them joined him during the grueling campaign. They include his best friend Romy Mercado, lawyer Galland Diaz, lawyer Chito Cruz and Quezon City Councilor Joseph Juico.

His cousin, Rafael “Rapa” Lopa, also accompanies Aquino on sorties but refused to take a major role in his campaign, preferring to stick to his work in the Aquino Foundation.

Also visible during the campaign was Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, LP spokesman who was with Aquino in the House of Representatives since Aquino served as Tarlac congressman for nine years.

The sisters of Aquino – Maria Elena “Ballsy” Cruz, Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Abellada, Victoria Eliza “Viel” Dee and television host and actress Kristina Bernadette “Kris” Yap – stepped out of the background and actively campaigned for him and were in charge of the finances of the campaign, although they revealed in interviews that Aquino was the one who decided on which campaign donations they would accept. Cruz and Abellada were also part of the executive committee deciding on campaign strategies for Aquino.

Aquino disclosed he was also consulting Ballsy and Pinky as regards the people he would appoint to his Cabinet.

Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, aside from being the running mate of Aquino, is also LP president and chaired the campaign’s executive committee after former Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, who was campaign coordinator, left.

Osmeña was reportedly the one who helped in the media aspect of the campaign instead and also worked to strengthen the delivery of the campaign message through the media.

Osmeña left the Aquino campaign reportedly to concentrate on his own campaign as senatorial candidate, but there was also talk that some of his ideas did not sit well with Aquino.

Quezon City administrator Pacquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr. was also a member of the executive committee and was the one briefing Aquino about his campaign schedules. He is said to be Aquino’s choice for executive secretary. Aquino has described him as a long-time legal counsel who had been helping him since he entered politics.

Ochoa was initially considered to head the legal team called PiNoy Lawyers tasked to guard the votes but this was later taken over by the Aquino-Roxas Bantay Balota team headed by former defense secretary Avelino “Nonong” Cruz. Aquino said Ochoa was also assisting him in the transition period leading up to his inauguration.

Supposedly tapped to be the next “Little President,” Ochoa has been in the news lately and questions about his background abound. Ochoa finished economics at the University of Santo Tomas and law at the Ateneo de Manila. He is founding partner of the Marcos Ochoa Serapio & Tan (MOST) law firm from September 2006 but is currently on leave.

He became Quezon City administrator in 2001 and special assistant of Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte.

Their fathers and namesakes – the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former Pulilan, Bulacan mayor Paquito Ochoa Sr. – were friends.

Sen. Francis Escudero and Lito Banayo were part of the media operations for the campaign along with Maria Montelibano, the communications head of the campaign. Montelibano is a relative of Aquino and was chief of Radio-TV Malacañang during the time of Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

Montelibano was also identified as one of the heads of Tuloy PiNoy with Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, Aquino’s cousin, as president.

Aquino said his uncle, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, did not really have much participation in his campaign, but reports had it that Peping, Mikee and her husband Dudot Jaworski, along with Escudero, Banayo and Montelibano, supported United Opposition’s vice presidential bet Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.

Yolanda Ong was the communications director of the campaign, with former trade secretary Johnny Santos as head. Ong is the managing director of Campaigns and Grey, a public relations and advertising firm, that conceptualized the “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” campaign slogan of Aquino and Roxas.

Aside from Santos, other members of the “Hyatt 10” or the group of Cabinet members who resigned from the Arroyo administration in 2005 to protest alleged election fraud were part of the campaign, including former education secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, who served as overall campaign manager and member of the executive committee.

Former finance secretary Cesar Purisima worked with Viel Dee on finances, and also sat as one of the members of executive committee.

Former social welfare secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman was head of a volunteer group for Aquino and Roxas as well as the People Power Volunteer Center put up for the LP team. She also took charge of events involving the urban poor. Aquino said she would get back her old post under his administration.

Edwin Lacierda is a constitutional law professor and member of the Black and White Movement who serves as Aquino’s spokesman and who also sat in the executive committee.

Julia Abad, daughter of campaign manager Butch, is Aquino’s chief of staff and oversees Aquino’s schedule and engagements and manages the affairs of his Senate staff.

The people behind Aquino work out of two separate offices. Ochoa, Montelibano and the PiNoy Lawyers are in an old house on Samar Avenue, while the Hyatt 10 group along with the staff of Aquino and Roxas are in Cubao, both in Quezon City.

The groups reportedly split because of the support of Escudero, Montelibano, Peping and Mikee Cojuangco for Binay. But the Aquino camp denied this, since only Escudero openly campaigned for Binay.

Aquino has repeatedly downplayed the supposed power struggle within his camp, saying he had put his foot down on the bickering factions and said he was leaving his door open so those who would only sow intrigues could leave.

Aquino said his group was not monolithic and differing opinions were part of the process. The most important thing was that when they would arrive at a consensus, “everyone must follow.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vengeance is sweet even if wrong

Business Insight

Sometime in the 1990s, the Iglesia ni Cristo expressed interest in acquiring a huge tract of land from the University of the Philippines where the Ayala IT buildings now sit. It turned out that the land was earlier acquired by a certain Mallari, who, some people say, was really acting for and on half of the INK.

The word I get is that Mallari or the INC approached Antonio Carpio, then a member of the Board of Regents of the UP. In the first place, they told Carpio, they have already won in the Court of Appeals but a settlement would be more expeditious and less troublesome.

But Carpio told them that their title is fake. The case reached the Supreme Court. In the pen of Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, the Court ruled that the Mallari or INC title was indeed fake. They lost the land.

Everybody thought that the ruling had the effect of a final resolution of the case. In the sense that for Mallari or whoever he was acting for is concerned, the case has been finally resolved.

But to some people, revenge, even without a cause, is sweet. That is why there is speculation over the persistent attacks on the Firm which Carpio worked for before joining government first as chief presidential legal counsel of President Ramos and then as associate justice of the Supreme Court appointed by President Arroyo in 2001.

I hazard the guess that this might be why Carpio is under siege from media particularly from a morning TV program hosted by a young man.

Concerted attack

I have never heard or seen a law office, known as the Firm but now called CVC law, going through relentless but most of the time baseless criticisms from media – television, radio and print.

There must be method to this madness. I suspect that some people are scared the Firm might again cede some of its best lawyers to the service of the Noynoy Aquino government like it did to the Arroyo administration.

Do not fear, folks. You can grab by whatever means any position in the Noynoy government but none of the lawyers of the firm will be in any of them. They have learned enough lessons serving the Arroyo government.

They had to dump President Arroyo when the going got hot. The lawyers, including Avelino J. Cruz, began to feel that powerful people in Malacañang were forcing them to make look right what was patently wrong and therefore might not pass the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.

Personally, I do not think any of them want to go through it again. We will soon see. My informant told me that Nonong Cruz has been sounded out to become the next executive secretary. He has a good mind to decline it.

Except for Sylvette Tankiang, senior partner of CVC and daughter of my friend and compadre, the late Antonio V. Tankiang, I do not personally know any lawyers of the Firm. What is beyond me to comprehend is why Malacañang refused to file charges against them if they did wrong.

On the other hand, we should look deeper into whether or not they left Malacañang – all 10 or so of them – because they refused to do the bidding of powerful people. Or did they line their pockets thick early enough and left when the going got rough? Figure it out. Or get witnesses with proofs, not hired hacks.

Disbarment case

I am in New York for a two-week rest. I keep getting info from my sources in Manila. The last I got is about an alleged disbarment case against newly-retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno filed by a RTC Judge Forentino Flores of Malabon who, as all judges, was appointed by President Arroyo. The case is now in the hands of Associate SC Justice Mendoza.

My own inquiry yielded the information that the judge was dismissed because he admitted obviously before the Supreme Court that he decides cases only after consulting dwarves and friends.

The twist is the Firm is suspected to be behind the dwarves. What dwarves are those? There are some who live earth mounds with termites. Malacañang itself is known to have one but does not live with termites although this one has a stronger appetite.

Vist Google to get the fun of your life.

But seriously how can ex-Chief Justice Puno be disbarred for firing a judge who consults dwarves before making a ruling?

Everybody knows there is hardly any justice this country. But dwarves should not figure in arriving at rulings, if what was fed to me has any ring of truth.

Not Cruz, its Ochoa

Since Malacañang might already have known that former chief presidential legal counsel and former secretary of national defense Avelino J. Cruz may not accept an impending offer to be the executive secretary, the eyes of President Noynoy and his friends have turned to Joey Ochoa.

Ochoa, law partner of Liza Araneta Marcos, wife of Bongbong Marcos who has just been proclaimed senator, has the best qualification. He is the barkada of Noynoy but his name does not ring so loud a bell as the other lawyers. There are downsides and upsides in Ocho’s impending appointment. It can facilitate a reconciliation between the Marcos and Aquino families. That is the upside.

The downside is such reconciliation may not sit well with the people who continue to blame the deceased dictator as the tyrant who brought this country to ruin, although the nine-year no-mandate reign of Gloria Arroyo did a better job of bringing this country on its knees.

In any case, in my book the executive secretary must necessarily be as good a lawyer as the chief presidential legal counsel so that the two of them working together can save the president from the embarrassment of losing cases in the Supreme Court.

What boggles the mind of President Noynoy is his apparent inability to rein in the conflicts for perks among his supporters, notably the members of the Hyatt 10, the Kamag-anak Inc. and lately the “Kaklase” (classmate).

Refusing a Pl.5 million monthly pay

This Eldon Cruz obviously does not know his arithmetic when it comes to money. I was told here in New York that a suddenly-rich Chinese Filipino businessman offered him P1.5 million a month to do nothing.

He refused it. He instead accepted an offer of P500,000 a month to become president of a thriving nickel company. Why did he settle for less? Because he trusts the man who made him the offer.

He may more comfortable with P1.5 million month but he cannot trust the man giving him the money. He knows that the man will ask for favors in exchange. Favors he may not be in a position to give.

On other hand, he knows the mining man head to toe. He may also ask for favors but they will be reasonable.

Who in heaven’s name is Eldon Cruz? He just happens to be married to Ballsy Aquino, Noynoy’s sister.

Cheers for Hyatt 10, Jeers for Romulo

Telltale Signs
by Rodel Rodis

It is a group outgoing Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) personally detests more than any other, a group she derisively refers to as the “Hayop 10” (the 10 beasts). This is none other than the famous or, if you love GMA, the infamous “Hyatt 10”- the term coined by the press after the hotel where the group publicly announced their mass resignations from GMA’s cabinet on July 8, 2005.

Members of the Hyatt 10 include Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Education Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Trade Secretary Juan Santos, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rene Villa, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, National Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Imelda Nicolas, Internal Revenue Commissioner Guillermo Parayno and Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina.

It has been nearly 5 years since the day when these “hayops” willingly gave up all the political, social and financial perks and clout of a being a cabinet secretary or bureau chief to protest GMA’s cheating in the 2004 presidential elections and to publicly call on her to resign.

After they resigned, all of them actively involved themselves in opposing GMA’s Cha-Cha (Charter Change) and Con Ass (Constituent Assembly) initiatives that, they charged, were intended to extend GMA’s hold on to power beyond 2010.

All of them also actively supported the candidacy of Noynoy Aquino and played critical roles in his election campaign, notably Butch Abad who served as General Campaign Manager and Cesar Purisima who chaired the campaign’s fund-raising arm. Among her other activities, Imelda “Mely” Nicolas, sister of Filipino American community icon Loida Nicolas Lewis, coordinated the efforts of overseas Pinoys for Noynoy-Mar groups.

Because of their considerable experience in the bureaucracies they used to administer, and because of their personal sacrifices and their commitment to the anti-corruption program of government of Noynoy Aquino, their appointments to various cabinet posts would be only fitting and proper.

But not all agree. Sen. Chiz Escudero, a presidential hopeful in 2016 and the leading backer of “Noy-Bi”, the Noynoy-Binay cross-party presidential tandem, publicly called on Noynoy Aquino to reject any of the Hyatt 10 for consideration in his cabinet. Members of the Council for Philippine Affairs (COPA) led by Pastor “Boy’ Saycon, and closely identified with Noynoy’s uncle Peping Cojuangco, are also furiously lobbying Noynoy to deny a cabinet appointment to any of the Hyatt 10.

The statute of limitations for guilt by association with GMA must have already run for the Hyatt 10 by now after five years, especially since GMA could find nothing in their administrative records to smear them with even after exhaustively investigating all their official actions in her efforts to discredit them.

But there is one current member of GMA’s cabinet under consideration to retain his post in the Noynoy Aquino administration who has somehow smoothly managed to remain under the radar and avoid criticism from the fervent Hyatt 10 haters. This man is Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo who just this week heaped praise on GMA again for her “outstanding performance” as the country’s chief diplomat and for pushing a “people-centered foreign policy.”

Word that GMA-loyalist Romulo may be retained by Noynoy Aquino has dismayed his supporters and members of the Philippine diplomatic corps . According to Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas, “It’s bad enough that Romulo is incompetent. What is worse is that he has been the face of the Arroyo government to the world throughout these years of corruption and human rights violations. He defended Arroyo in international fora amidst accusations of cheating in the 2004 election, extra-judicial killings, and massive corruption.”

The candidate for the DFA post who is supported by Filipinos in the US and members of the Philippine Diplomatic Corps is former Philippine Ambassador to Washington Albert del Rosario. After serving five years in his post, he was “recalled” by GMA in 2006 after he opposed the hiring of the controversial Venable LLP firm as a lobbyist for the Philippine government. According to Business World columnist Greg Macabenta, GMA wanted Venable LLP hired to “secure grants and US congressional earmarks” for Arroyo’s initiative to reshape the form of government into a parliamentary federal system.”

Ambassador Del Rosario secured his reputation with Filipinos in America when he mobilized the community to convince the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the biggest public pension fund in the US, to retain its investments in the Philippines.

As Loida Nicolas-Lewis said: “We are particularly grateful for his leadership in opening up opportunities for us to give back especially to the land of our birth: he encouraged and assisted us in our initiative to lobby for the amendment to the money laundering laws in the Philippines, facilitating our remittances to help our loved ones back home; and making sure that investment returns meet the expectation of CalPERS.”

The last time Ambassador Del Rosario visited San Francisco was in 2008 when he came to promote PinoyMe, a pet project of former President Cory Aquino that would generate overseas support for the vital microfinance sector in the Philippines. As Greg Macabenta recounted in his column, private citizen Del Rosario “briefed us on the existence of about 450 microfinance institutions (MFI) operating throughout the country, serving about 3 million families with loans of as small as $100. According to him, that small amount could spell the difference between their having one meal or three meals a day.”

About 150 members of the US Pinoys for Noynoy-Mar are set to attend the inauguration of President-elect Noynoy Aquino on June 30. If we get a chance to speak to our president, we will ask him to appoint Ambassador Del Rosario as his Secretary of Foreign Affairs.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

GMA Must Pay for the Mess She Caused

by Frank Wenceslao

The biggest mess Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is leaving to Benigno Aquino III is a budget deficit which, according to former NEDA head, now Senator-elect Ralph Recto would be P400 billion this fiscal year.

Aquino’s urgent need is to increase revenue and reduce the deficit without raising taxes or he will stunt businesses and kill jobs. The best possibility is saving or minimizing the P800 billion the Philippines loses annually to graft and corruption (G&C) and hasten the search and recovery of the estimated billions or trillions of pesos of ill-gotten wealth hidden abroad by Filipinos or ex-Filipinos naturalized in foreign countries made easier by international agreements such as the UN Convention Against Corruption and the London G20 Summit of April 2009 lifting bank secrecy law, which led then UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to declare, “The days of bank secrecy are over.”

The greatest news to Pamusa’s supporters and perhaps all overseas Filipinos after Aquino’s apparent victory is that former President Manuel Noriega of Panama has been extradited on April 27/10 to face trial for money laundering in France. It’ll be recalled American troops invaded Panama to arrest and extradite Noriega to be tried in the U.S. and began serving in 1990 a 30-year sentence in a Miami federal prison for money laundering, racketeering and drug trafficking.

His sentence was reduced to 27 years and he could’ve returned to Panama in 2007. However, the French applied for his extradition to try him for money laundering while still Panama’s president which was opposed by his lawyers but nonetheless granted by a U.S. court by virtue of UNCAC’s international cooperation provisions (UNCAC-ICP).

According to a Filam lawyer, Noriega’s case established a precedent more firmly the UNCAC-ICP makes it possible to prosecute in the European Union and Switzerland Philippine government officials guilty of corruption and related crimes from Marcos to GMA including close associates and immediate family members, or private businessmen and individuals that colluded with them for money laundering. The U.S. has added the following crimes in enforcing the UNCAC-ICP, among others, to wit:

Wire Fraud – In the United States Code, wire fraud is any criminally fraudulent activity that has been determined to have involved electronic communications of any kind, at any phase of the event such as the transferring funds from illegal source or proceeds of corruption to and from the U.S.

Money Laundering – It is the process of creating the appearance that large amounts of money obtained from serious crimes, such as government corruption originated from a legitimate source. It is a crime in many UNCAC signatories with varying definitions.

Racketeering – It is the violation of RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) by committing crimes for profit in the U.S. especially when the money is obtained by fraud (government corruption) or extortion (bribery).

Foreign Corrupt Practices – Violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) (15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq.) is a U.S. federal law known primarily for two of its main provisions, one that addresses accounting transparency requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and another concerning bribery of foreign officials by American citizens or companies including foreign firms doing business in the U.S.

Criminal Conspiracy – In U.S. criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement such as committing any of the above crimes.

It will be recalled Imelda Marcos was charged in 1988 by Rudy Giuliani of racketeering. Although acquitted of the crime, she can be sued civilly in the U.S. by Pamusa to recover Marcos’ and cronies’ ill-gotten wealth held by her, her children and siblings especially Kokoy Romualdez’s illicit assets transferred to his sons, New York Architect Daniel and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.

The latter is allegedly the paymaster of GMA’s every foreign trip with the usual big entourage, one of the conditions by her to protect Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth from being seized by PCGG. GMA got reimbursed by the government which she then deposited to her foreign bank account in a local bank; hence, she’s guilty of money laundering in the Philippines just as her husband and his brother Cong. Ignacio Arroyo in depositing millions of pesos of political contributions they admitted in a Senate committee hearing.

One important thing to note, GMA’s violation of the Constitution and disrespect for the rule of law in packing the Supreme Court and judiciary with her appointees to thwart the criminal and civil suits she, her family and close associates will face are in vain because they can be tried in a foreign country like Noriega and other corrupt, discredited and unlamented foreign leaders.

However, government officials from Marcos to GMA and their co-conspirators have an option to negotiate settlement and return to the government ill-gotten wealth from the proceeds of corruption. Or else, the incoming Aquino administration may opt for their prosecution in the States through the cooperative framework established by Pamusa with FBI, U.S. Departments of Justice and the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

It’s now internationally agreed to be almost a fact that the amount of money extorted and stolen each year from developing countries makes government corruption a crime against humanity on account of the poverty and sufferings of the poor denied of basic government services. Hence, like the war crime trials in Nuremberg after the fall of Nazi Germany and prosecutions at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, not just Filipinos will be complainants against Marcos’ heirs and cronies, the Arroyos and their ilk but all the world civilized people with collective indignation embodied in the UNCAC.

My point is Aquino’s “regime change” should make it unmistakably clear to Filipinos at home and overseas and the international community that he wholeheartedly means to flesh out “kung walang corrupt walang mahirap.” Thus, his Executive Order No. 1, like his mother’s EOs 1 & 2, s. 1986, should direct the PCGG to consolidate its evidence with that of the Ombudsman and other government agencies in the search and recovery of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, Arroyos and their co-conspirators and in a cooperative agreement (MOA) with Pamusa seek the assistance of U.S. federal agencies and foreign counterparts invoking the UNCAC-ICP and other international agreements.

Aquino needs a Presidential Adviser on the UNCAC of Cabinet rank to supervise and coordinate the incoming administration’s Anti-Graft and Corruption Program (AGCP). In addition, the adviser should interface and ensure the coherent application of anti-graft and corruption efforts for quality assurance. It may be advisable the adviser be named interim PCGG chairman concurrently until legislation is enacted for the Commission’s replacement to take overall charge and hasten the search and recovery of ill-gotten wealth rather than the years they’re taking now.

Pamusa will submit PCGG’s evidence on Marcos’ and cronies’ ill-gotten wealth and the Ombudsman’s evidence from G&C investigation to U.S. federal law enforcers and their foreign counterparts. At the same time Pamusa will retain U.S. private law offices specialized in multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional litigation; avail of experts and financial crime investigators to hasten asset-search and recovery; and, more importantly forensic accountants to unravel the sources and applications of funds in complex transactions and uncover whether they’re legitimate or not.

This will hasten the investigation and legal actions of the FBI, USDOJ and other U.S. law enforcement agencies with foreign cooperators in tracing, freezing and seizure of the proceeds of corruption and their return to the Philippines.

Let me quote my favorite passage in President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, “For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.” Hence, when Filipinos with stolen and inexplicable assets know that Aquino can avail of worldwide anticorruption authorities and tools to search and recover ill-gotten wealth sooner rather than later, the more likely negotiated settlement becomes a better option of offenders to avoid enormous legal defense cost, the risk of losing all and perhaps spending years in a foreign jail like Noriega.

Overseas Filipinos are almost unanimous that the success or failure of Aquino’s policies and programs depend on the competence of officeholders to apply two important words, i.e. “coherence” and “correlation.” For example, Aquino will depend on PCGG and other anti-G&C agencies to recover ill-gotten wealth to “cohere” or “correlate” with other programs and projects such as reducing the budget deficit; enhancing social amelioration projects, e.g. free textbooks and lunches for grade school children; prenatal, pediatric and health care for seniors with free prescription medicines ala U.S. Medicare; and adult education emphasizing national discipline, honesty and civic responsibility with favorable multiplier effects across Philippine society’s broad front.

Moreover, Aquino in his administration’s first year can have his AGCP hanging overhead like “a sword of Damocles” to deter quick-money schemes, rigged government contracts and criminal enterprises to save or minimize the said P800 billion the government loses annually and hasten the search and recovery of ill-gotten wealth maybe after whistle-blower rewards is publicized and understood by the general public.


The Liberal Party must play its cards right

by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

Being the official political party of soon-to-be-proclaimed president Noynoy Aquino, the Liberal Party (LP) must plot its moves and political maneuvers very carefully. The LP members may think that they are in an enviable position but the reality is they could be more vulnerable than they are willing to accept.

The Aquino victory is largely owed to the people’s organizations, more than a victory of the LP. In fact, in many areas, the LP almost placed Aquino in jeopardy by insisting on fielding lightweights when the local heavyweights belonging to other parties or affiliations were already willing to support Aquino.

One such area where this happened was in vote rich Pangasinan province. Pangasinan governor Spine Espino was already set to support the Noynoy Aquino-Mar Roxas ticket after meeting with Noynoy’s relatives. But the LP leaders decided to field an LP candidate against Espino and his mayors. They did this mainly because they were pursuing accreditation by the Comelec (Commission on Elections) as the Dominant Minority Party.

The LP attempted to field as many candidates that it could. That would have been advisable if the LP candidates were competitive. But if their candidates happen to be lightweights, sure losers who will likely end up as sore losers, then it would have been better to ally with the stronger local force in order to ensure the two top national posts.

Having been challenged by the LP, Governor Espino was reportedly irritated and thus felt that he was no longer bound by his previous commitment to support an Aquino-Roxas ticket. It was then that Espino was convinced to opt to carry an Aquino-Binay (Noy-Bi) ticket in Pangasinan by the Noy-Bi promoters. Aquino won in Pangasinan by a big margin but Mar barely won by a whisker over Binay.

During the campaign, the big people’s organizations, notably the Noypi inspired by Conrad de Quiros, the NAPM (Noynoy Aquino for President Movement) and the PiNoy, found themselves at odds several times with LP planners in coordinating the sorties and other campaign activities. It came to a crucial point when the decision was finally reached that the Aquino campaign is first and foremost people-led — that the LP should just take a supporting role. That was one of the key moves that arrested the ratings slide of Aquino — from 60% to 36% — and allowed him to win the 2010 presidency.

Going into the next administration, the LP is a minority in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate. If the LP behaves like a bull in a china shop, then Noynoy Aquino will be seriously threatened and his reform agenda will be blocked. The LP must support Noynoy and avoid having to compel Noynoy to undertake damage control for LP blunders.

The power of the presidency is immense and Noynoy should be using this power to attract wide support for his reform agenda. It would be a waste of this power of the presidency if the main objective is diverted to merely promote the LP. It is Noynoy’s reform agenda that the people voted for. It is not to make the LP into another Marcos KBL (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan) super political party.

In both houses of congress, the LP must be reaching across the aisle for Noynoy Aquino. They should be avoiding friction with the other political groups which will distract Noynoy from his reform agenda in order to ease tensions and mend fences. The LP must work to facilitate for Noynoy and not be the cause of more Noynoy worries.

Like that of Cory Aquino, the Noynoy presidency is saddled with high expectations at a time when many Filipinos could not have been more desperate. The Aquino presidency cannot even look forward to the so-called First One Hundred Days Honeymoon Period where the new Chief Executive is allowed some slack to get to know the ropes.

The recent media bashing emanating from calls for Aquino to set the example in the anti smoking campaign is a good indication of how much pressure his presidency will be undergoing. Noynoy’s smoking habit was not even an issue during the election campaign and yet it had recently generated a lot of flak.

Can you imagine how much toxicity will be generated if the peso value sinks by 10% or if the prices of basic commodities suddenly rise by 15%? Can you imagine how Aquino’s political foes will jump at the opportunity to take advantage of the social unrest which diminished consumer purchasing power tends to spawn?

Can you imagine how the vultures who have plundered our country will take political advantage of the soon to mature CODE NGO Bonds where some of the Hyatt 10 members are known to be involved? The daughter of the late patriot Jose Wright Diokno made a documented expose of this CODE NGO Bonds issue. Go check whose names are listed on that document.
With all the plundered money that his political foes have at their disposal, Aquino will find the political ground under him undergoing liquefaction should Filipinos begin to perceive that are still corrupt public officials around.

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